Engineers and Environment

Hybrid Cars

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 25, 2007

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In a new study issued last week, automotive consumer information service Intellichoice.com reported that gasoline-electric hybrid cars and trucks—favored by environmentalists for sipping instead of guzzling gas—have significantly lower total cost of ownership than equivalent traditional gas-only models.

 
“Across the board, we found that all 22 hybrid vehicles have a better total cost of ownership over five years or 70,000 miles than the vehicles they directly compete against,” said Intellichoice.com publisher James Bell.

“Hybrids are proving themselves to be an excellent alternative for car buyers,” Bell added. “Even when factoring in the additional upfront costs for their purchase, the long-term savings hybrids generate makes them a sensible and attractive purchase.”

Intellichoice.com’s findings run contrary to previous analyses from Consumer Reports which concluded that hybrid owners cannot make up the higher up-front costs of a hybrid with fuel savings down the road. The key difference is due to the fact that Intellichoice.com factored in hybrids’ retention of resale value as well as the availability of various tax and financial incentives.

SOURCES: intellichoice.com

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Sunderbans

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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The sea is steadily eating into the Sundarbans, the world’s largest delta and mangrove forest, threatening an ecological disaster for the Bengal basin region. The 20,000 square kilometre forest delta stretches across the lower reaches of the Bengal basin - 60% falling in Bangladesh and the rest in  West Bengal.

Satellite imagery shows that the sea level in the Sundarbans has risen at an average rate of 3.14 centimetres a year over the past two decades - much higher than the global average of two millimetres a year. Scientists believe that in the next 50 years, a rise of even one metre in sea level would inundate 1,000 sq.km of the Sundarbans.

In the past two decades, four islands - Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga - have sunk into the sea and 6,000 families have been made homeless. Two other islands - Ghoramara and Mousuni - are fast going under.  The district administration has constructed huge embankments to ring the coastal inlands.  But during high tides, the embankments are damaged. Some develop cracks and collapse.

A total of 54 of the 102 islands in the Indian Sundarbans are still habitableAbout 2,500 sq.km have been set aside as a tiger reserve since 1973.  Since the first settlements in 1770, the population of the Indian Sundarbans has risen 200% to nearly 4.3 million.

The population has put pressure on the ecosystem, which acts as a nursery for the aquatic resources of the Bay of Bengal. Scientists say that the Sundarbans, South Asia’s largest "carbon sink" - which mops up carbon dioxide - must survive to help prevent global warming. But will it?

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3102948.stm

 

Wildlife

Marine turtles-two stories

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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Dead Olive Ridleys have been spotted in large numbers at Gahirmatha, Devi river mouth, Jatadhar river mouth, Harishpur areas, Chilika coast and Puri.

The situation went out of control at the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary after a forest guard by accident killed a fisherman from the Kharnasi village on December 14 last year. Angry fishermen snatched away seized boats, released arrested persons and also burnt down the patrol camp at Agarnasi on December 22. In the absence of armed police, forest guards have refused to carry out sea patrols to protect sea turtles.

Although all trawlers have to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TED), not a single trawler is making use of them. A sum of Rs 10 million given by Indian Oil Corporation to the forest department in 2000 for turtle protection is yet to be used for speedboats. Similarly, the fisheries department had also got Rs 10 million from the Government of India for speedboats, which remains unspent even after eight years.

SOURCE : The Pioneer& The Hindu, January 18, 2007

Contrast the above grim news with the following:


Turtle Festival at Velas, Tal- Mandangad, Dist-Ratnagiri is being celebrated on 10th and 11th February 2007.  Last four years Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM), Chiplun, has been working in Marine TurtleConservation in Maharashtra.   Velas is 225 Km from both Poona and Mumbai.

 In this period SNM released 7610 hatchlings from152 protected nests. This year 28 nests are protected on entire coast of thestate, and at Velas there are18 nest till today.

On 10th and 11th February, 2007 in the mornings and evenings there is a chance to observe the emerging hatchlings from the nests at Velas. This dates are based on last four years experience. 


SNM is making simple homestay arrangements for tourists and wildlife lovers who would wish to watch the hatching of the turtles on the two dates. They can observe how the marine turtle conservation project is going on, hatcherymanagement, meet the locals who are actually working, film turtles, Coconutgardens and the beach.

SOURCE: Posting in yahoo group Delhibird by Kedar Gore

Wildlife

Clouded leopard

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2007

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Frequently overshadowed by bigger, better known inhabitants of India’s jungles, such as the tiger, elephant and leopard, little is known about the clouded leopard. . A smaller member of the “big cat” group, this creature, weighing between 11kg and 20 kg, is found in the jungles of north Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya as well as China and parts of south east Asia.


Neora Valley National Park in Darjeeling has begun its first survey of the clouded leopard in an attempt to find out more about this elusive, endangered species. The survey hopes to find out the estimated clouded leopard population of the park, as well as observing daytime and nocturnal behaviour and its prey base.


The year-long study, jointly carried out by the state forest department and Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS), a voluntary organisation, will also look at eco-tourism prospects in the park. The 88 square kilometre park is also home to the endangered red panda and musk deer. Other species include leopard, five species of civet, black bear, sloth bear, golden cat, wild boar, barking deer, sambar, Himalayan flying squirrel and Thar.

SOURCE : The Statesman, Friday, January 19, 2007

nature/wildlife films

Screening at workplaces?

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 22, 2007

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Social and environmental film makers all over the world are, generally speaking, a much troubled lot on the financial front. What keeps them going, more than anything else, is their commitment to the cause.

Unfortunately, these thought provoking films rarely get audiences as they face a challenge of distribution. Television channels either do not run them or, if they do, there is no guarantee of attracting enough eyeballs.


Screening at the workplace


Organizations would do well to screen such films in their workplaces. There are many ways to do this including:

  1. Television screens that are sometimes installed in offices.
  2. Create a kind of a You Tube on the intranet so staff can watch these on their desks itself.
  3. Collective Screening: Call staff in groups to a common room, and screen for them. No doubt people watching in a group would be impacted more as they would have a chance to discuss the same with one another, then and later too.
  4. Distribute discs: Get multiple copies of such films on suitable discs and distribute them amongst staff.
  5. Go a step further. Start giving these to customers who make a certain minimum purchase from you. Why give a free soap with a shampoo? Give a film.



Environment Awareness

Roots and Shoots

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 22, 2007

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Roots and Shoots


I had the privilege of listening to Jane Goodall at the Brish Council on 21 Jan 2007, while she was addressing the audience of  "Wildscreen India". 
Jane Goodall is intenationally known as the saviour of chimpanzees.  But it was indeed more thrilling to listen to her enthusiasm for the "Roots and Shoots" program she has initiated in 100 countries and is soon starting in India too.

Roots and Shoots of plants have the uncanny ability to pierce/sprout through brick walls.  She believes that the brick wall of unsustainable development/global warming will have roots and shoots growing all over soon  - roots and shoots being the young workers she is organizing into groups of grassroot workers from all corners of the world. 


The youth of today and even senior citizens can be mobilised for action and they are our "Reason for Hope"

Do visit the site http://www.rootsandshoots.org for more info.

Wildlife Poaching

Poaching in Panna

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 12, 2007

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Poachers in Panna targeted the wildlife to celebrate the new year and killed dozens of animals. Most hit were the bucks. It is learnt, in Umaria beat an incident of killing of bucks came into light after publishing the news in Central Chronicle newspaper.

Three youths of Khajuri village killed buck in jungle and distributed its meat among themselves and celebrated with family members. The forest officials raided Khajuri village and found three youths indulging in hunting. The accused accepted their crime. The forest officials then took the three youths, residents of Khajuri in jungles where they found hides of bucks hid near a tree. The officials then recovered the hides.

The forest officials recovered two axes and hoof of buck. The accused have been arrested under sections 691/12 dated 3/1/07 and sent to the court on remand.

SOURCE : Central Chronicle, Saturday, January 6, 2007

 

Wild Elephants

Human Animal Conflict

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 12, 2007

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A scientific study conducted by an Asiatic elephant expert from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has concluded that RCC walls should be built in certain areas and elephants be relocated to the Nagarahole National Park in some other areas. Elephants in certain other areas in Kodagu should be scared away back to the forests.

Measures such as elephant proof trenches and solar fencing had failed, the Virajpet Deputy Conservator of Forests Mr. Kalappa said. RCC wall constructions were being taken up on an experimental basis in Mysore and Chamrajanagar, he said.

 

Bio-Diversity

First white-backed vulture bred in captivity

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 11, 2007

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Following efforts that lasted for over five years, the first white-backed vulture baby was born at the Haryana-based Vulture Conservation Breeding Centre (VCBC), run by the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Haryana’s Forest department at Pinjore, on January 1. "This is the most precious new year gift from nature to the vulture conservation efforts," Dr Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist and head of Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme in India, said here on Monday.

"In the wild, the incubation period is about 55 days. However, in the VCBC the egg hatched in about 54 days. The eggs were laid in November 2006," Dr Prakash said.

 “We will have to be quick in effectively implementing the ban on the killer drug Diclofenac to assure a better future to this newborn vulture," Dr Asad Rahmani, Director BNHS said.

"The Conservation Breeding Programme is the only hope for recovery of vultures. We aim at releasing 100 pairs of the three critically endangered vulture species to repopulate the wild population. The killer drug Diclofenac has to be wiped off before the release of vultures," Dr Rahmani added.

Long considered nature’s most efficient scavengers, vultures are on the verge of extinction. Nine species of vultures are recorded from the Indian subcontinent, of which the White-backed vulture Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed vulture Gyps indicus and Slender-billed Gyps tenuerostris vultures were by far the most populous species in India. Over the last decade, however, there has been a drastic crash in the population of these vultures in most parts of the country. The rapid vulture population decline was first taken cognisance by the BNHS.

Ornithologists initially felt that there might be a variety of reasons for the decline in vulture population. However, in May 2003, they - after marked research - attributed the decline to a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary drug, Diclofenac, which is used as a painkiller for the livestock. If the animal dies during or after treatment of this painkiller, and if vulture feeds on the carcass, Diclofenac enters into the vulture’s body. The vulture gradually dies because of kidney failure. Therefore, unless this killer drug is withdrawn from the system with strict implementation of the ban, there is no hope for vultures to be released in the wild from the conservation breeding centres, point out ornithologists engaged in the project.

The Vulture Conservation Breeding Programme of the Bombay Natural History Society is supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, the Darwin Initiative for the survival of species, UK, the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) of UK, Zoological Survey of London (ZSL), UK, and the State Governments of Haryana, West Bengal and Assam.

Bio-Diversity

Hyderabad Zoo takes up breeding of Mouse Deer

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 11, 2007

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Wildlife officials are all set to start breeding of the endangered species Mouse Deer, also known as `Spotted Indian Chevrotain’, at Nehru Zoological Park, which is fast becoming a major centre for breeding of endangered species using technology.

Sporting a brown colour speckled with white markings, the Chevrotain is a nocturnal animal and is considered to be very timid, which vanishes into dense vegetation at the least hint of danger. Chevrotains basically are very shy creatures and because of this, officials point out that it is difficult to study and observe them in the wild. The diet of Chevrotain is quite varied and includes both plants and sometimes even small animals.

Acting on a proposal sent by zoo officials, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) recently agreed to allow breeding of Chevrotain at the zoo. The zoo officials had cited the success of raising a healthy spotted deer by artificial insemination in collaboration with researchers of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. "Very soon special enclosures would be constructed for the Mouse Deer at the zoological park.

The zoo has  eight Mouse Deer now and they are hoping that the numbers would be just enough to start the project. CZA has agreed to fund this project.  




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